Central Service Professionals Overwhelmingly Support Professional Certification

Aesculap Survey Finds Sterile Processing Leaders Believe More Education Would Bring Respect to Field 

Central service leaders almost unanimously agree that CS professionals should be professionally certified, and most believe that certification would bring more respect to the field, according to a new survey by Aesculap.

The online survey of 258 directors, managers, technicians and other sterilization professionals found dramatic support for both more continuing education opportunities and the ability to prove their expertise through certification. Almost every respondent – all but two – said central service professionals should be professionally certified, and 87 percent said certification would bring more respect to the profession. In addition, when asked what single improvement would help their everyday work, the second most popular choice was, “Accessing more continuing education opportunities.”

“It’s rare to see an industry clamoring for more regulation and oversight, but the sterilization field is unique in that its incredibly crucial role in healthcare is often overlooked in a way that makes central service departments less effective than they could be,” said Bob Marrs, CRCST, CIS, CHL, Director of Aesculap Consulting Services and Field Operations. “Formalizing education, training and eventually professional certification for these important positions would bring them more legitimacy and allow them to do their jobs better.”

Central service technicians are responsible for ensuring that equipment and instruments used during surgical procedures are properly disassembled, cleaned, inspected, sterilized, and reassembled prior to patient use. Currently, only two states, New York and New Jersey, require certification of central service professionals, and legislation was signed into law this year, effective January 1, 2016, in one more state, Connecticut. Two additional states, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, have certification legislation pending before their state legislatures as well.

"The survey reflects the momentum we are building state by state with our advocacy efforts. Healthcare professionals across the spectrum, along with legislators, support our efforts as we collectively recognize education and certification lead to greater patient safety,” said David Jagrosse, CRCST, IAHCSMM President. “This was recently highlighted with the passage of the Connecticut bill this year, shortly after our success in New York in 2013." 

This lack of a nationally accredited standard creates risk for health systems, according to the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management (IAHCSMM), which has been leading efforts to have certification required at the state level. Also, because the training of central service professionals is inconsistent, many professionals believe it lessens the credibility of their positions.

"IAHCSMM's leadership on certification legislation was driven by its membership. The survey exemplifies this by showing that Central Service professionals overwhelmingly agree that the professionals in their field should be certified," said Josephine Colacci, JD, IAHCSMM Government Affairs Director.

Survey respondents further made it clear that they feel underappreciated, with 88 percent saying the central service profession doesn’t receive the respect it deserves in the industry, and 65 percent saying they don’t receive enough respect within their own health system.

"The majority of the survey respondents agree that if CS professionals attained certification in the field, it would have an impact on increasing the level of respect they receive,” said Steve Adams, RN, BA, CRCST, IAHCSMM President-elect. “Even more importantly, certification demonstrates that CS professionals possess the knowledge to perform their jobs more effectively and accurately. This enhanced knowledge and skill sets should foster a more positive OR/CS working relationship, which can only help improve the overall perioperative patient experience." 

A majority of CS leaders did say that they see other positive change happening within their health systems. More than 85 percent said their health system is taking necessary steps to improve sterile processing, with about a third saying that their facilities plan to add instrument tracking systems, increase surgical instrument inventory, and/or purchase other new sterilization equipment in the next 12 months. About a quarter of those surveyed said they plan to implement lean practices and switch from disposable instrument wrap to sterile containers in the next year.

Respondents were also asked to select which of several options would be the most important improvement to their everyday work. The most popular answer, selected by more than one in five people, was “Working better with OR.” The next four most popular answers, selected by between 11 and 13 percent of people, were “Accessing more continuing education opportunities,” “standardizing instrument sets,” “implementing instrument tracking technology,” and “Seeing more support from hospital and departmental leadership.”

The survey was sent via email to a self-selected list of sterile processing professionals. Those who completed the survey reported having job titles that almost entirely consisted of CS/SPD director, manager, technician, coordinator, supervisor, team lead, specialist or educator. Other titles included infection perfectionist, quality assurance specialist, surgical instrument data systems management specialist, instrument facilitator, and operations supervisor.

Amy Burkey
Senior Project Manager – Corporate Communications
Aesculap, Inc.

About Aesculap, Inc.

Aesculap, Inc., a B. Braun company, is part of a 175-year-old global organization focused on meeting the needs of the changing healthcare environment. Through close collaboration with its customers, Aesculap provides advanced technologies for general surgery, neurosurgery and closure technologies. Aesculap continues a proud heritage of leadership and responsiveness as we strive to deliver products and services that improve the quality of patients’ lives. For more information, call 800-282-9000 or visit aesculapusa.com.


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